How the hell can I have 81/100’s of a reason to increase clubhead speed? 

I can’t.

The number is more of a measure than an integer used to sum up reasons. 

What does the number represent?

I will tell you later in the article.

This is the first article in a series that will use research papers documenting why you should invest in mobility & stability assessments, corrective exercises, strength & power training and other golf fitness related techniques to improve your golf performance. 

Clubhead Speed = Distance

All other things being the same, the faster you swing a golf club, the farther the ball will go. 

The 1.81 in the article title is the average distance in yards that a golf ball will carry in the air when the impact velocity of the clubhead is traveling one mile per hour faster. 

To calculate that number, I modified data used in a published paper written by Sato et al. 2013 from research completed by Kenny (2006).

I modified the data because in my opinion as a researcher (have I told you I’m a geologist? – long story) some of the data shouldn’t be used for carry distance, which isn’t the original purpose of Kenny (2006) thesis.

Looking at the data set, it was obvious that some of the golf shots were most likely hooked or sliced considerably. So I removed those data points from the data set. 

That said, I will give you the actual data calculations based on a 10-degree driver with a stiff rated shaft at 44.75-inches long. The shots were measured with a rangefinder on a day with no wind. I didn’t notice if the atmosphere parameters were given but the tests occurred in Northern Ireland, so near sea-level.

The golf balls were hit by golfers with an average handicap of around 5. So good players but not professionals.

I looked at data with clubhead speeds of between 89 mph and 112 mph.

Using all data in the set, an increase in clubhead speed of 1 mph will on average cause the golf ball to travel 1.26 yards farther.

However, if you remove the erroneous data, the average distance gain is close to 2-yards (1.81 yards). 

A graph of the original data set is shown below. Not that the trendline is calculated from the “own” club which was a standard length driver.

You Heard It was More

Yeah me too. So I looked into it. 

Most of the reliable Internet resource’s report distance gains of over 2-yards per mph of clubhead speed. 

Below are a couple of these resources. 

The website GolfWRX has an excellent chart that shows clubhead speed vs. distance for most clubs in the bag. GolfWRX reported a driver carry multiplier of 2.4 yards per mph clubhead speed. Their data is a little shaky, though. Looking at their chart, all gaps of 10 mph equals 24 yards of carry. But if you look at the LPGA, Senior Tour and PGA Tour numbers and calculate the distance between the next whole number their multiplier is less than the 2.4 they report for the10 mph intervals.

I assume these data are from golf balls hit by a robot arm. 

They do bring up a good point that loft does matter. 

The Tutelman website shows their work; I like that. They use an equation because carry distance changes at different rates. 

He uses this formula: Carry Distance = 3.16 * clubhead speed – 85.2. 

Using the same data range and the equation above produces 3.15 yards per 1 mph increase in clubhead speed.

By the way, Tutelman used a robot to hit the golf balls, so the smash factor was near perfect.

What is Smash Factor

Smash Factor is ball speed divided by club speed. Smash Factor relates to the amount of energy transferred from the clubhead to the golf ball. The higher the smash factor the better the energy transfer. A golfer would hope to achieve a smash factor near 1.50 on driver shots.

It is basically how square you hit the ball. A ball hit on the nuts should be near 1.50 while a toe hit will be much less than 1.50.

A robot arm can produce consistent smash factor of 1.5.

Amateur golfers can’t consistently hit ball after ball with high smash factors. Therefore, their average distance increase per mph of clubhead speed will be lower.

That is why the internet results are much higher than the Sato et al., and Kenny data. 

So What is the Right Value?

According to research papers and internet data, a clubhead speed increase of 1 mph will allow you to hit the ball between 1.26 and 3.15 yards farther. 

So when you hit the ball squarely, you are likely to gain around 3 yards; while a poorly hit ball will give you a little over a yard. 

On average, you will gain around 1.8 yards for every mile per hour you can swing faster. I like this value because it is calculated from amateur golfers that don’t hit the ball perfect all the time. But bad and super good strikes have been removed from the data set. 

The good news is that regardless of your golfing ability you gain yards!

There is no downside of increasing your strength, mobility, flexibility and lengthening your golf swing.

For more information on mobility, stability, and flexibility you can visit Mobility and Stability Patterns as Related to Golf Fitness.

5 MPH Clubhead Speed is Easy to Gain

If you haven’t been training you can gain five mph clubhead speed in as little as 3-weeks with the proper exercise program.

Easily. 

That is between 6.5- and 15.5-yards carry on your drives. We not even talking about run-out here, only carry. 

That is, at least, one club shorter on every approach shot and most likely two clubs because you will hit your irons farther too! 

You want to hit a 6-iron to a green, or an 8-iron?

You Have to be Smart About It

There is more to gaining strength than going to a gym and hitting the weights.

Will you get stronger, yes, but it will come at a cost.

You need to have a mobility assessment done on you movement patterns before you start lifting weights.

It is imperative to know where you need strength, and what parts of your body are limiting your movement.

If your aren’t assessing you are only guessing.

Adding strength to a workout plan can cause mobility limitations to become dysfunctions that could lead to pain or injury.

I have created a guide that explains this in more detail. The guide is called Don’t Add Strength to Dysfunction.

Click the button below and I will send a copy to your inbox. You should read this before you start working out.

Click to Download the PDF

If You Want to Gain A Few Easy Yards

All you have to do is work a little bit on your golf fitness. Increase your mobility so your swing is a little longer, increase your strength and stability in your legs to produce more force, and increase the stability of your core to transfer the power from your legs to the arms.

If you do a few simple exercises you will gain 5 mph of clubhead speed easy.

Don’t know what your clubhead speed is? Go to our local retailer that sells clubs and ask the attendant if you can try out some drivers. Keep track of your clubhead speed and smash factor. Write those numbers down somewhere so you can access them later.

Find a local TPI Golf Fitness Professional, sign-up for one of my programs, or contact me for some advice and start a short fitness workout program. Go back to that retailer and see how much you have improved! 

Remember, we don’t know what formula the swing tracker is using so don’t trust the distance the machine shows you.

You are better off using this formula: Carry Distance = 1.8117 X clubhead speed + 49.46.

85 mph = 203 yards; 90 mph = 212 yards ; 95 mph = 222 yards; 100 mph = 231 yards. 

Do you want to hit the ball farther? Then check out these resources.

References/Credits

Sato, K, Kenny, I.C, and Dale, R.B. 2013: Current golf performance literature and application to train. Journal of Trainology 2:23-32

Kenny, I.C. 2006: Biomechanical and modelling analysis of shaft length effects on golf driving performance. Thesis Doctor of Philosophy; Faculty of Life and Health Sciences of the University of Ulster.

Copyright: jorgophotography / 123RF Stock Photo

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